hosting overnight guests

Bedroom with bed and holiday tree in box.Provide guests a private retreat.

Wonderful! Your parents are finally coming for the holidays. 

We all love houseguests, but the holidays can be a tricky time to have them underfoot.

You're busy, and the house is in an uproar.

Follow these tips to ensure that your overnight guests and your family have the best possible experience. 

Help Overnight Guests Feel at Home

What can you do to make sure they feel at home in your home? The most precious thing you can give guests is privacy. It's so awkward to be a guest - you feel on display, and you have no control over your situation. 

Provide a little sanctuary for your guests - a retreat where they can go and regroup. Of course, the flip side of making your guests cozy in their rooms is that you and your family get an occasional breather as well. 

Provide Overnight Guests With Privacy

If you don't have a spare bedroom, kick one of the kids out of his or her room for the visit. (You can make it up to him later.) Overnight guests need a quiet refuge - especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters.

Here are the basics needed to equip a comfy, cozy guest room:

  • Bed
  • Dresser. (Clear out a couple of drawers so they can unpack and get rid of their suitcases.)
  • Closet with hangers
  • Room to spread out: Clear floors and shelves of your stuff to make room for theirs. 
  • PIllows: Foam or down? Ask their preference
  • Extra blankets
  • Trashcan

  • Chair (if room)
  • Tissues

 Beyond the Basics

These aren't essential - but providing them might get you back in the will. These amenities are simply icing on the cake.

  • Vase of flowers
  • Basket of food (fruit, cookies, crackers, tea and coffee)
  • Bottled water

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Pen and paper
  • Lint brush
  • Laundry bag

the Guest Bathroom

If there is any way to give your guests their own bathroom, do it. No one likes sharing bathrooms with folks outside the immediate family. Yeah, you love Uncle Keith - but do you really want to negotiate around his shaving supplies?

Stock the guest bath with:

  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Soaps
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Cups
  • Hand lotion
  • Disposable razor
  • Hair spray
  • Bath gels, salts, bubble bath

Pet Precautions

How could anyone not love Fluffy? And Bruiser wouldn't hurt a fly, would he? Tell that to Grandpa, who sneezes when you say "cat."

Or to Aunt Alice, who's terrified of anything that barks. Or to Great-grandma Susan, who broke a hip when a friendly pup jumped on her.

Yes, this is your pets' home. But they have to make compromises, too. Keep all animals safely confined during a guest's visit as much as possible. 

Dogs can get territorial when strangers are wandering around the house in the dark. And you don't want Cousin Flora to be afraid to go to the bathroom at night. Think of where she might wander...

Keep Guests Informed

Knowledge is power. Make a list of any planned activities for your guests. Also, give them a list of activities in your area and a list of restaurants.

Ask them to look the information over and let you know what they'd like to do during their stay. And while you're at it, jot down your family's daily routine. What time do you usually get up for breakfast? Is it a serve-yourself affair?

When are lunch and dinner? When do the kids usually take a nap? Do you go on afternoon walks? What time do you typically go to bed?

Make it clear they can adopt any routine they like, but at least they know what the rest of the family is up to. There's nothing worse than sitting in your room, wondering what the day holds in store for you. You want a guest, not a prisoner.

If you don't want to be waiting on guests hand and foot, you'd better show them where everything is. Show them:

  • How to use the coffee maker
  • Where the coffee and breakfast foods are kept
  • How to use the remote for the TV

Let Freedom Ring

Finally, give them their freedom. If you have a second car, let them poke around by themselves if they feel up to it. Give them a key to the house so they can go for a walk and get back inside. 

And if all of this seems too much trouble, consider reserving a room for them at a nearby hotel. You want your holiday to be fun, not work. It might be worth your money.

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